Updated May 8, 2018

The Art of Negotiating the Ideal Housing Contract

When it comes down to renting a property in Vietnam, you need to remember one thing: Everything is negotiable. So make that housing contract work for you, not against you. In a place where real estate scams have become the norm, one of the biggest worries of tenants in Vietnam is the security deposit. Will […]

When it comes down to renting a property in Vietnam, you need to remember one thing: Everything is negotiable. So make that housing contract work for you, not against you.

In a place where real estate scams have become the norm, one of the biggest worries of tenants in Vietnam is the security deposit. Will you get that 1-2 months’ rent back at the end of your lease? What if you need to break your contract? What if your landlord breaks the contract?

Surprisingly, there are many ways to protect your deposit and tenancy. Here are our expert tips on the matter.

Leaving after one month’s notice

Anything can happen in Vietnam. You could get a new job or feel homesick and want to go back to your home country. Whatever the case, it’s easier to do so if your housing contract includes the possibility of leaving after giving only one month’s notice. So, do try to include it in the contract negotiation.

However, most landlords of an apartment, a townhouse or a villa won’t accept this.

Our expert tip: Counter-suggest a minimum time limit to the deal. For instance, after nine months of staying, you are eligible to move out with one month’s notice. This arrangement will often improve the chances of your landlord accepting the proposal, and give you peace of mind knowing you can move out relatively quickly if life decides to take a U-turn.

The art of negotiation

Finding a replacement

Another way that you can add flexibility to your contract terms is to ensure you can leave anytime during the leasing period on the condition that you find a replacement tenant. That way, if you need to leave before the contract finishes, you can post on many expat forums (like Vietnam Expats) to find someone to occupy the place and pay the rent in your stead.

Those terms are usually accepted, but some landlords may refuse because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of managing people moving in and out, and all the paperwork associated with it. That is because landlords usually rely on agents to close those deals, and it costs them money to do that.

Real Estate Contract Scams

Check the dates

If you do end up staying the entirety of your lease, double check the date that you’ll receive the deposit. Sometimes landlords “hold” your deposit for a short period of time (1 week to 1 month) while they clean the apartment and inspect it for damage. You don’t want to book your flights out of the country before you can collect that huge sum. And if the dates don’t work for you, negotiate!

Real Estate Contract Scams

Protect yourself against liquidation of the property

One of the most common frustrations of renting a property in Vietnam is having a landlord sell his property to a new owner while you are living there. Ho Chi Minh City is developing fast and many homeowners want to take advantage of skyrocketing property prices. The cases of tenants having to move out because their landlords wanted to trade in their property for a big juicy check are legions. The new owner is under no obligation to keep you as a renter or respect a housing contract he didn’t sign.

Real Estate Contract Scams

We suggest you check in with the landlord before signing the contract to ensure a stable stay. Most will tell you if they want to hold onto their properties or if they are thinking about selling within a year’s time. You can request to include terms in the contract that says your lease remains valid even after the property changes ownership.

As with many things in life, common sense is your first and best form of protection. Never sign a contract in a hurry. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek advice before finalizing the deal. And once it is done, do your best to maintain a good relationship with your landlord: Pay on time, be courteous, keep the property clean and make sure to give them a little gift in the form of lucky money for Tet. Those acts can go a long way into making sure that if something goes awry, it will not go from bad to worse!

For more tips on renting apartments in the city, please be sure to download our FREE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO HOUSING IN SAIGON.

PROPERTIES FOR RENT